Another Meet the Writers article, and this time you can meet one of our best podcasters in Nischal.
– When did you start supporting Chelsea and why?
I’ve always been a Chelsea fan, but I properly got into following Chelsea when I really got into football in 2010 (I know that doesn’t sound great) during the World Cup of that year. My family has absolutely no connection to any club, and having been born and bred in London with my best friend at the time supporting Chelsea, I followed suit.
– Is there any rivalry in your family or is it Chelsea through and through?
As mentioned, my family had no affiliation to any club. My Swiss dad was a boyhood Grasshoppers fan, but had long lost his passion by the time I got into football. I’m also the first generation of my family to be born and bred in the UK, so there was very little competition or influence in finding my club.
– What’s your first memory of Chelsea?
I’d say my first real memory is when we best West Brom 6-0 on my birthday, and I remember celebrating the win on holiday in Switzerland. In terms of my first cherished memory, it would be seeing Stamford Bridge for the first time when I went on the stadium tour, just a month before my first game.
– Which game was the first one you went to at Stamford Bridge? How did you feel etc…?
My first game at the Bridge – and my first Chelsea game – was Chelsea vs Swansea on 24th September 2011. I remember the walk up the stairs up to my seat, and seeing the pitch and stadium for the first time on a matchday. It gave me goosebumps and shivers down my spine, and being there for the first time ever and seeing the Bridge in all its glory is something I’ll never forget. We won the game 4-1 thanks to goals from Fernando Torres, Ramires and my childhood legend Didier Drogba. After the game I met a few of the Swansea players (Ashley Williams, Angel Rangel, Michel Vorm), but best of all I met Juan Mata and got him to sign my matchday programme. I still have it proudly standing in my room to this day!
– During your time as a Chelsea fan, which season do you significantly remember?
The 2011/12 season was incredible, as despite our poor form in the league our Champions League and FA Cup successes were incredible. 2016/17 is also up there, but for nostalgia it has to be 2011/12.
– During your time as a Chelsea fan, which match do you significantly remember?
Munich 2012. What else? The match that lives long in the memory of every diehard Chelsea fan, that wonderful night in Munich. Honourable mentions go to our incredible comeback against Napoli in the same year, and our 2-0 win over PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2014.
– What has been the best match you’ve seen live at The Bridge?
That’s a really tough question, as I’ve seen so many great games. However, I would say last season’s Carabao Cup semi-final over Tottenham, where we won on penalties. The game and penalty shootout drama was enough to savour, but the scenes and celebrations I experienced in the Matthew Harding Lower are something I’ll never forget.
– During your time as a Chelsea fan, which player has been your favourite and why?
When I was young, I idolised Didier Drogba. I absolutely loved him and what he represented, and he’s certainly one of my favourite ever Chelsea players. That’s not just because of his great moments at Chelsea – such as that penalty – but what he was like off the pitch. His generous charity work, his kindness on everyone and the fact that he stopped the Ivorian Civil War make me respect him so much to this day. He’s closely followed by Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, as well as the classic Old Guard: Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech, all Chelsea legends who knew what it meant to play for the club.
– During your time as a Chelsea fan, which manager has been your favourite and why?
José Mourinho. He was a football genius and did so much for us, and bar his occasional defensive performances it was a joy to have him as our manager.
– During your time as a Chelsea fan, what has been the worst memory?
We have generally been very lucky, with trophy after trophy in recent years. I can’t lie, some of our defeats last season weren’t the best for me. The atmosphere and toxicity after our 6-0 defeat to Manchester City was unbearable, and our FA Cup loss to Manchester United was depressing. I remember being in the Matthew Harding Lower and, as the game came to a close, it was dead. Hundreds of empty seats, chants against Maurizio Sarri and a huge sense of frustration, in what was an unpleasant time at the club.
– If you could watch only three Chelsea games for the rest of your life, what would they be?
I’ll go for the 2012 Champions League Final for nostalgia, the 4-1 win over Napoli in 2012 for entertainment and the 2-1 win over Tottenham in 2019 for the joy and memories of that game.
– Favourite player in the squad at the moment. Most disliked player in the squad at the moment.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, without a shadow of a doubt. The fact that we come from the same area in London is enough for me to absolutely adore him, but more so him being an academy product and an outstanding player. His strength, passing, shooting and everything about him makes him the perfect midfielder, playing in my favourite position as well. I love Ruben, and I’m sure he’ll become a Chelsea legend in the years to come.
My most disliked player is Marcos Alonso. I respect him for what he’s done for us at the past, but watching him defend frustrates and infuriates me so much.
– Which player during your time as a Chelsea fan has been very underrated?
I actually think Fernando Torres was very underrated. He always got a lot of stick and, while he struggled to live up to his Liverpool form, I think he was a very good striker for us. I also think players like Ramires and Juan Mata are underrated by football fans, though definitely cherished by the Chelsea faithful.
– Why did you join The Chelsea Echo and what got you interested in writing/podcasting?
I was offered the chance to join The Chelsea Echo, and I just couldn’t turn it down. I have been interested in journalism and writing since I was a kid, and am aiming to go into the business. I’m looking to broaden by journalistic skills and gain as much experience as possible, hence why I joined the Echo.